UPDATE: The publisher of FHM, Australian Consolidated Press, has just announced it will close the magazine after its circulation halved in the most recent audit.
“The May issue will be its last, and the website will also be shut on the day the title is taken off the shelves.”
ACP said it would try to ‘redeploy’ employees.
“The decision to close a title is never an easy one and FHM is certainly no exception,” said Matt Stanton, CEO, ACP Magazines. “FHM is a terrific brand but, given the current market conditions, it has been difficult for ACP to make it a commercially viable proposition.”
Here’s Mamamia’s initial interview with Mark Dapin, former Ralph editor-in-chief, about the demise of the men’s mag:
All those boob jokes might soon fall on deaf ears.
After years of leering and jeering at women, it’s the men’s magazine industry’s turn to get on its knees. Circulation figures are plummeting. Even the readers are turning away from the content that, at its worst, has seen people become confused whether the magazine coverlines are written by an editor or spoken by a rapist. Seriously, there was a study and most men got them the wrong way around.
Think about what that means.
Well, those days are almost over. Don’t believe us? The latest circulation figures for one of Australia’s leading bloke’s titles FHM – published by Australian Consolidated Press (ACP) – dropped by half in the last half of 2011. It dropped from 50,154 copies sold to 26,026 copies. Just like that.
It is, as Mumbrella describes it, ‘one of the biggest circulation drops in Australian media history’. It reported: “The drop for as significant a brand as FHM is virtually unprecedented.”
Weekly title Zoo launched amid much fanfare in 2006 and was pronounced by some as the busty-covered saviour of the industry. For a while, it did well. But even its sales tanked 18 per cent in the last half of 2011, about 18,000 copies.
No amount of cover-photo leg seems to be able to save them now. But what, exactly, is happening?
If there’s one man who lived and breathed the men’s magazine, it’s former Ralph editor-in-chief Mark Dapin. He wrote the book Sex and Money about his climb to the helm of Ralph through the hedonistic ranks of the industry including stints writing for Penthouse, People and Picture magazine. We spoke to Mark to get the low-down on the changes:
Mark, I’ll start up front, are ‘blokey’ magazines about to pass into oblivion?
I’ve thought about this quite a bit and I’ve looked at the statistics. When ACP closed Ralph in favour of FHM, I was told the men’s magazine market was cyclical. Which I thought was a bit of a cop out. In retrospect, there was some truth to it. In the late 1990s when lads magazines first started, a number of other magazines died so that they might live.
Australian Playboy died. Well, it atrophied and decayed and disappeared and it was a major international brand. And I suspect the same thing will happen to FHM.
Popular magazines exist in a moment of time, they are a snapshot of their moment in time and the attitudes.
The golden era of these magazines I would suggest coincided neatly with the time of my own editorship. [Mark wanted it known he was mostly joking when he said this. Mostly.]